Rafael Nadal’s proposed comeback date appears to have been confirmed

Kevin Palmer
Rafael Nadal at practice
Rafael Nadal smiles

Rafael Nadal has been training at his Academy in Mallorca and now it appears he has a roadmap for what is set to be his final year in tennis.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion underwent the procedure at a clinic in Barcelona in June and admitted he didn’t know whether he would ever make a return to the game.

Nadal’s team issued an update saying the arthroscopic procedure on his left psoas tendon went well, with the damaged areas cleaned and reinforced, while an old labrum injury was also addressed.

The Spaniard, who turned 37 earlier this year, suffered the injury at the Australian Open in January and had expected to only be out for six to eight weeks, but repeated efforts to rehabilitate it did not work and Nadal was forced to go under the knife.

“My goal and my ambition is to try and stop and give myself an opportunity to enjoy the next year and that will probably be my last year in the professional tour,” said Nadal.

“That is my idea but I can’t say 100% it will be like this, but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me.”

Many observers expressed doubts over Nadal’s comeback plan, but he seems to have been picking up the pace of his comeback in recent days.

Reports emerging from Spain have suggested the veteran is encouraged by the progress he has made in his practice matches and there were suggestions that he could play for Spain in the Davis Cup later this year.

That target appears to be ambitious, but his uncle and long-time coach Toni has issued an encouraging update that suggests Nadal is planning to play at the first Grand Slam of 2024.

“Rafa is fine, recovering. If everything goes well, he wants to return to the courts for the 2024 Australian Open,” Toni told in ElDesmarque de Cuatro.

Toni also commented on Novak Djokovic’s latest Grand Slam win at the US Open, as he moved two clear of Nadal in the race to finish his career with the most major titles in the history of the game.

“Djokovic is a great champion and it will be very difficult to reach him, not only for my nephew but for anyone,” he added.

“It’s very difficult to determine who is the best in history…you have to opt for Djokovic because the titles support him.

“Although I think (Roger) Federer has sometimes managed to play at an even higher level, I think in the world of sport if we go by the numbers, Djokovic is without a doubt the best.”

Djokovic admits Nadal has been a huge influence on his career and helped to take his own game to a new level, so he may relish one or two final clashes with his old rival next year.

“Because of the rivalry that we had, and that we still have, I feel that he was one of the most impactful people that I have ever had in my career, the growth of my career, and me as a player,” Djokovic said earlier this year.

“Definitely a great motivational factor for me to keep playing and keep competing and keep pushing each other, who’s going to achieve more, who’s going to do better.

“It made me think about my career and how long I’m going to play. I’m not going to make any announcement today, but just reflecting on it, I felt also a little bit emotional about what he was saying.”

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